1. One book you have read more than once:
I'll have to say Run River by Joan Didion. I read it when things in my life have gone suddenly askew. Despite its plot and subject matter--the novel begins with a murder on the banks of the Sacramento River-- it brings me a sense of calm. The rhythm of her prose, the sentences, the repetition. Sometimes reading it feels like meditation.
2. One book you would want on a desert island:
I never know what this means. A book that I would read, or that I could burn to make smoke signals? How about I'll go way out there, and say the Icelandic Sagas. Not modern printed ones, but the originals. They were all made of hand-bound cow's hide, and therefore could be boiled in soup if there was nothing to eat during the long winter. A book that feeds you mentally and physically, now that's the book for me.
3. One book that made you laugh:
Most recently it was This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes. It's so brilliant the way she sets the most ridiculous plots into motion and you just go right on with it like it's the most normal thing. A horse shows up in a sinkhole and the celebrity neighbor flies his helicopter over to help get it out. The absurdity is ultimately appropriate.
4. One book that made you cry:
There is a moment in Dan Choan's book You Remind Me of Me, where a child has been abducted and his grandmother is wondering where he might be. Choan writes: "She has never been a superstitious person, but she is certain at this moment she can sense the presence of the child. His little soul. It is a small, steadily blinking pulse, like the light of an airplane moving across the sky at night." I lost it right there.
5. One book you wish you had written:
I don't covet other people's work like that. I sometimes say, 'I wish I could write like that,' but I never think it terms of having written a particular book myself. One would always do something differently. So, I'm going to steal Ted's idea (genius!) but I'm going to go with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, only because she's probably richer than she'll ever need to be, but people will still be reading her book in a hundred years after Dan Brown is forgotten about.
6. One book you wish had never been written:
Was this list made by someone who doesn't write? I hate it when, like in personal ads on the internet, people don't really answer the question, but wittily prance around it, but oh well. My feeling is that even a book like The Turner Diaries or some assinine sack of garbage by Ann Coulter would be defended by other writers if it came to whether or not a person could write what they were passionate about. On second thought, maybe not the Coulter shit.
7. One book you are currently reading:
In 1969, Tobias Schneebaum wrote Keep the River On Your Right, which was a series of letters he wrote in his journal during his time spent in Peru, living with the Harakumbut people, (then called the Amarakaire,) where he, among other things, ate human flesh. He was also a painter, a lecturer, a teacher, an AIDS activist, and homosexual. He's sort of my hero.
8. One book you have been meaning to read:
I have this stack of Joyce Carol Oates books that I keep trying to get through. And since she writes like four books a year I'll never catch up. Currently, Wikipedia lists her published book count--including novels, plays, short stories, etc.--at 102.
9. One book that changed your life:
I always tell people that for me this book was Barbara Kingsolver's triumph of a novel, The Poisonwood Bible. It was just so clear to me what she was doing, both with language and voice, but also what she was doing artistically and politically. Other books that also got it right are Janette Turner Hospital's Due Preparations for the Plague, Katherine Dunn's Geek Love, and Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy.
10. Now Tag 5 bloggers:
Witold, Mario, Michael, Amanda, and Tucker.